Branwell Brontë: as Broken as all Their Hearts Were

This is a repost from last year, with a few changes.

Patrick Branwell Brontë, brother to Charlotte, Emily and Anne, died on September 24, 1848 around 9am, most likely from tuberculosis aggravated by delirium tremens, alcoholism, and addiction to laudanum and opium. It was a Sunday. He was thirty-one.

 

Branwell Brontë, Self-Portrait

How could any of them know the extent of his weaknesses before they manifested in such a way as to irreversibly ruin him and torture them all, and, in Anne’s case, prove she had done more harm than good by trying to help him?

Anne pushed her thoughts in a higher direction. “There might be joy and fulfillment for him yet, if he’ll try to receive it.”

“Even our father seems to have given up on his eternal salvation.”

“I don’t think so.”

Anne wanted to feel as sympathetically close to Charlotte as they were in the flesh while they sat on the bed they shared, both in their nightgowns and caps but neither making a motion to get under the covers.

Emily walked up and down the hallway, it seemed for hours, to the drone of her father praying, which was a little comfort to Anne. Even covered with blankets Charlotte complained she felt cold. She said she was going to throw up, but never needed the chamber pot for that purpose and finally fell asleep. Anne couldn’t and, needing something to do, assumed her father hadn’t interrupted his vigil at Branwell’s bedside to wind the long-cased clock.

Emily was leaning against the door frame of the room where, Anne hoped, father and son might bond in dying as they hadn’t in living. Emily’s eyes were closed, her mouth moving, her words muffled, Anne making them out in their repetition.

“You’ve killed yourself … you’ve killed yourself … you’ve killed yourself …”

“Oh, Emily,” Anne reacted softly, walking towards her sister, knowing she wouldn’t be able to comfort her. She had to try. “He may yet recover.”

“You don’t believe such nonsense.”

The expectation of another skeptical reaction sent Anne to the clock, the action she could take to keep it going, and the struggle with her own faith she didn’t want anyone, especially not Emily, to witness.

“Oh, luv.” Tabby startled her into dropping the winding key, but immediately relieved her of holding back her tears.

They hugged. Tabby was grown more bosomy in a frill-less, high-necked nightgown, her face becoming redder. The old woman wiped a billowing sleeve across her face, allowed herself a few more sniffles, and walked up to Branwell’s room, stroking Emily’s arm before she went in.

“He sleeps quiet,” she reported, touching Emily’s shoulder this time, reaching out to take Anne’s hand. “Rev’r’end be restin’, too. Y’uns shuld get sum sleep.”

Emily shook her head and went downstairs.

Tabby noticed Martha was in the hallway and waved her back to their little room. “Need tha up early, Missy.”

Charlotte was also awake, sitting in bed with the covers pulled to her chin, questioning Anne, panic in her eyes.

“No change.” Anne slid in alongside her, lying on her back, which wasn’t comfortable. She needed to listen for what she hoped she wouldn’t hear.

It was the unexpected Charlotte responded to first. “What’s that? It’s not—”

“It is.”

Emily usually performed the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata nimbly with soft dynamics and reflective expression, letting it rise and fall like a singer’s perfect breathing and articulation.

That night, just past the new moon, too far from old joys, too close to last wishes, one of the darkest nights of the month and their lives, her playing was labored, hesitant, even harsh, as broken as all their hearts were.

~ from Without the Veil Between, Anne Bronte: A Fine and Subtle Spirit

Branwell Brontë’s caricature (1847) of himself lying in bed and being summoned by death.

I sit, this evening, far away,
From all I used to know,
And nought reminds my soul to-day
Of happy long ago.

Unwelcome cares, unthought-of fears,
Around my room arise;
I seek for suns of former years
But clouds o’ercast my skies.

Yes-Memory, wherefore does thy voice
Bring old times back to view,
As thou wouldst bid me not rejoice
In thoughts and prospects new?

I’ll thank thee, Memory, in the hour
When troubled thoughts are mine-
For thou, like suns in April’s shower,
On shadowy scenes wilt shine.

I’ll thank thee when approaching death
Would quench life’s feeble ember,
For thou wouldst even renew my breath
With thy sweet word ‘Remember’!

~ Patrick Branwell Brontë

“In the next world I could not be worse than I am in this.”
~ Branwell Brontë

 

 

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Saturday Short: Autumnal Sisterhood

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;

Lengthen night and shorten day;

Every leaf speaks bliss to me

Fluttering from the autumn tree.

~ Emily Brontë

Copyright 2014 by DM Denton

“Wait but a little while,” she said,

“Till Summer’s burning days are fled;

And Autumn shall restore,

With golden riches of her own …”

~ Anne Brontë

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

On numerous evenings in the parlor the two of them worked on companion pieces, which excerpted read like a scripted dialogue between them.

Anne: “‘A younger boy was with me there, his hand upon my shoulder leant; his heart, like mine, was free from care …’”

Emily: “‘They had learnt from length of strife—of civil war and anarchy—to laugh at death and look on life with somewhat lighter sympathy.’”

Anne: “‘We had wandered far that day o’er that forbidden ground away—ground, to our rebel feet how dear. Danger and freedom both were there—’”

Emily: “‘It was the autumn of the year; the time to laboring peasants, dear: week after week, from noon to noon, September shone as bright as June.’”

Anne: “‘He bade me pause and breathe a while, but spoke it with a happy smile. His lips were parted to inhale the breeze that swept the ferny dale, and chased the clouds across the sky …’”

~ from Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit
(quoted poetry from Emily Brontë’s Why ask to know the date—the Clime? and Anne Brontë’s  Z_________’s Dream)

 

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you

Saturday Short: The Words One Writes …

 

Sometimes the words one writes about another are also about oneself …

If Anne was truthful, she did envy Emily settled at Haworth never having to apologize for withdrawing from the world and into her writing.

Anne didn’t expect to ever make peace with her conscience, to stop strengthening her nerve or moderating her sensitivity. Much of the time she hid the ambitious side of her nature, but in neglect it seemed to grow larger and harder to control, a dangerous thing if ever it had more sway over her than responsibility and faith.
~ from Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine & Subtle Spirit, by DM Denton
(Read newest review!)

 

 

Saturday Short is a new regular posting on this blog, briefly consisting of a quote, excerpt, reflection, or something similar every Saturday.

Just a reminder: If you would be interested in guest posting on my blog, please contact me.

Wishing everyone a joyous and safe weekend!

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you

 

Three Lutes and a Violin

Having focused for the last eight plus months on my latest novel release, Without the Veil Between, Anne Bronte: A Fine and Subtle Spirit, I have neglected promoting my previous two novel publications, A House Near Luccoli and its Sequel To A Strange Somewhere Fled.

 

Copyright 2012 by DM Denton

Three lutes huddled against the emptiness of a corner, stepsisters born separately of rosewood, maple, and ebony, sharing an inheritance of long necks, heads back, full bodies with rosettes like intricately set jewels on their breasts. Theirs was harmonious rivalry, recalling a master’s touch and understanding. On the settee a leather case contained a violin resembling a dead man on the red velvet of his coffin, not mourned but celebrated by nymphs dancing through vines on the frieze high around the room.

from A House Near Luccoli, a novel imagining an intimacy with the 17th Century Italian Composer, Alessandro Stradella

Photo by Casee Marie Clow

What better time to return to the main protagonist in A House Near Luccoli, who is a haunting one in To A Strange Somewhere Fled. Having opened on September 1st and running through September 16th, an annual festival in honor of Stradella—Festival Barocco Alessandro Stradella di Viterbo e Nepiis happening in his birth place of Nepi, in the province of Viterbo, Lazio, central Italy. Here is a sample from the festival in 2016:

Alessandro Stradella, 1639—1682
Fascinating, Flawed, Forgiven, and Unforgettable

He was the epitome of the paradox of true genius, in ‘one breath’ making masterpieces and, in another, messes.

By the second decade of the 18th Century Stradella’s compositions were rarely performed, eclipsed by cloak-and-dagger operas and novels that portrayed him more as a libertine than serious composer. Of course, a little truth can spark and fuel lies. Whether acting on a patron’s whim or his own impulse, uncertainty and risk were inevitable for Stradella. It was his nature to embrace them. My intention was foremost, through specifics and speculation, to present Stradella as an enticingly fascinating if flawed human being and, without reservation, a gifted composer.

I focused on Stradella’s last year in Genoa (1681-1682), structuring my narrative with a succession of actual events, mainly musical, and initiating the fictional Donatella’s association with him through his need for a new residence and copyist.

Read my entire guest post at The Seventeenth Century Lady about Alessandro Stradella and the novels that were born out of my by-chance (or not) first encounter with him here …


Synopsis of A House Near Luccoli

It is over three years since the charismatic composer, violinist and singer Alessandro Stradella sought refuge in the palaces and twisted alleys of Genoa, royally welcomed despite the alleged scandals and even crimes that forced him to flee from Rome, Venice and Turin.

By 1681 Stradella’s professional and personal life have begun to unravel again, losing him a prime position at Genoa’s la Teatro Falcone and residence on the city’s street of palaces, la Strada Nuova. Stradella is offered a respectable if slightly shabby apartment in a house near la via Luccoli and yet another chance to redeem his character and career. He moves in with a flourish met with curiosity and consternation by the caretakers who are also tenants, three women, including Donatella, who, like the city she lives in, hides her longings, propriety the rule not cure for what ails her.

Even before I had completed A House Near Luccoli, I sensed I might carry Stradella’s inimitable spirit and music forward into a sequel. That plan was encouraged by Henry Purcell’s reported reaction to Stradella’s untimely death.

To A Strange Somewhere Fled also drew from my very personal experience of living in the Oxfordshire village of Wroxton and Wroxton Abbey, an away-from-London refuge for Francis North and his brother Roger North, both amateur musicians and important figures in the court of Charles II.
Read more about To A Strange Somewhere Fled 

A House Near Luccoli (Book Trailer)

 

A House Near Luccoli and To A Strange Somewhere Fled

are available in Paperback, for Kindle devices and app, and as Audio Books

at amazon.com

 

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you

William Weightman Barely Breathed and was Gone September 6, 1842

In 1839, a young curate breezed into the lives of the Brontë family. This young man was like a breath of fresh air, quite unlike any curate that the Brontë girls had previously encountered. For three short years, as well as being a diligent worker in his parish duties, he brought gaiety, romance, and humour into their lives, and an almost brotherly friendship with Branwell.
~ from The Brontë Studies, Volume 29, 2004 – Issue 1

. . . He sits opposite Anne at church sighing softly and looking out of the corners of his eyes to win her attention – and Anne is so quiet, her look so downcast – they are a picture . . .
~ Charlotte Brontë

William Weight by Charlotte Brontë

Anne could hear William’s lively chatter just outside the church, reminding he was gregarious, generous with his time and joyousness, and happiest when he was lifting others out of sighing and sadness. She chided herself for minding he didn’t observe her passing by, his occupation requiring him to be available to everyone, even silly young ladies who shouldn’t be denied a little of his sparkling company.

Anne wasn’t prepared for him walking beside her before she caught up with her aunt and brother.

“What will you do with the rest of your day?” he asked, sliding his hands down his long white cravat and folding them around its ends against the front of his heavily-buttoned frock coat.

She looked up for the sunshine that might yet peek through the dark and light clouds, a skylark singing frantically and flying as if looking for a way through them in the opposite direction the sun was. William was patient while she considered what to say, one answer in her heart and another in her head, someone else calling his name with an urgency she doubted she could ever express. The perfect afternoon activity would be a walk beyond Penistone Hill, across the high-ground, gray-green heath where curlews, golden plover peregrines, and merlins nested and by now would have some young. Even unintentional intruders might flush a few grouse out of the bracken and delight at them taking off to glide over the hair grass, cotton sedge, fern, and heather. There was always time to dally for such sights and talk to curly-horned sheep crowding for scraps of bread before continuing to the top of a steep slope, catching a glimmer here and there of the stream in the gully below. As the journey neared its end, hands would clasp to carefully descend the uneven stone steps to the waterfall weakened but its appeal not diminished by early summer. Emily’s chair would offer rest; other large stones also shaped, if not quite so perfectly, for sitting. What a pleasant diversion if the rain held off, invigorating if the wind was brisk, and respectable if Branwell came along, leaving little doubt how, as avowed in Psalm 104:24, the Lord had given them an earth full of riches.

“I hope you will excuse me.” William barely breathed and was gone.

~ from Without the Veil Between, Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit

 

One of the interior illustrations by DM Denton in Without the Veil Between

William died within three weeks of contracting cholera on his visits to the sick in the parish. Anne was informed of his death by a letter from her brother Branwell, which arrived after his burial had taken place.

Was William Weightman the love of Anne’s life? Who better than Anne herself to answer … in the way that beautiful poetry tells without saying.

That voice, the magic of whose tone
Can wake an echo in my breast,
Creating feelings that, alone,
Can make my tranced spirit blest.

That laughing eye, whose sunny beam
My memory would not cherish less; —
And oh, that smile! whose joyous gleam
Nor mortal language can express.

~ from Farewell by Anne Brontë

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Review of “Without the Veil Between” by Maddalena De Leo, Italian Representative of the Brontë Society

I am so honored, grateful, and inspired to have received this review by Maddalena De Leo, who is the Italian Representative of the Brontë Society (La Sezione Italiana della Brontë Society).

Professor De Leo understands, appreciates, and encapsulates the novel with such sensitivity and eloquence. Thank you, Maddalena!

 

The novel by DM Denton, Without the Veil Between – Anne Brontë: A Fine and Subtle Spirit, puts the accent on the lesser known of the three Brontë sisters, the British authors who have become famous throughout the world in the last century. I remember that forty years ago their name appeared little in the European encyclopedias, and Anne, the third sister, was mentioned only by name, without even knowing that she had written two novels instead.

Today, however, Anne Brontë has been greatly re-evaluated and in the last twenty years, thanks to translations of her works in various languages and a BBC production of her second and longer novel, she is considered, in some respects, even the most modern of the three. With grace and discretion, DM Denton, through this novel, wants to start an unaware reader [on] the path of endurance carried forward with determination and modesty by the “smallest” of the sisters, tracing the developments during the last seven years of [her] life. It highlights those that were characteristics in her, already common to the other two, namely the determination and courage to assert their ideas often deviating from the conventions of the time.

Through the succession of chapters in the book, where the historical-biographical information is dutifully mixed with the imagination, we discover wonderful family pictures in which we are almost in contact with the daily life of the Brontë family; we see discussions and small skirmishes between the sisters; we live and share the constant concerns of all of them with regard to their brother Branwell, who is on the wrong path and with no return.

Above all, through the well-measured words of Denton, a young Anne emerges more and more, especially in the final chapters. She frees from the web of religiosity with which she traditionally is painted, [and] tries to leave something good in the world through her measured but deliberately targeted writing. A different Anne at the beginning of the book, timidly in love, and then resigned to accept her own death with dignity and fortitude without moving the reader piteously, as often happens in various modern biographies or film biopic transpositions. All this is to give credit to Diane M. Denton who, with her delightful pencil drawings on the inside but also on the cover of the book, has contributed to make a meaningful homage to the memory of Anne Brontë.

Illustration from “Without the Veil Between” Available with others from artspan.com

Adieu, but let me cherish, still,
The hope with which I cannot part.
~ from Farewell by Anne Brontë

More About Maddalena de Leo

Besides being the Italian representative for The Brontë Society and on The Brontë Studies editorial board, Maddalena has worked very hard for many years to have the Brontë sisters known in Italy and worldwide. She has translated Brontë works and written fascinating articles about the Brontës, which you can read on the Bronte Society in Italy Section of The Sisters Room: A Bronte-Inspired Blog.

Maddalena’s most recent translation into Italian is Emily Brontë (1883) by Agnes Mary Robinson (1857–1944).

Without the Veil Between, Anne Bronte: A Fine and Subtle Spirit
is available in print and for Kindle devices and app

US: amazon.com

UK: amazon.uk

Italy: (in English; in Inglese) amazon.it

and through amazon in many other countries

 

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.

Revisited for International Cat Day: Escaping Ziegfeld, A Kindle Short

It’s

 International Cat Day

A pur-fect opportunity to remind

my blog visitors and readers that

all my author profits

from my Kindle Short Story

Escaping Ziegfeld

will go to

Second Chance Sheltering Network, Inc., a wonderful animal rescue organization through which I adopted my kitty-boys, Yoshi and Kenji last year.

The story is only

$.99 on amazon.com

(I will also donate $1 – $5 for every review
posted on amazon and/Goodreads)

also available at

amazon uk

amazon canada

Available in other countries, too

For Kindle devices

OR

Download free app to read on your pc, laptop, tablet, or phone

Cover artwork and design © Copyright by DM Denton

The fingering and pedaling of the Mozart piece required her absolute attention. What could be more important than effecting the appoggiaturas, the upper half of her torso leaning and lifting like a dancer, her elbows slightly bent, her wrists almost imperceptibly rolling side to side, her fingers always in touch with the keys and lightly en pointe?

Irene had been a little unnerved by the Italian’s ice-blue eyes, but how could he compete with the possibility of her following in the footsteps of Lillian Lorraine, the Dolly sisters, Marilyn Miller and Fanny Brice?

This short story, inspired by my maternal grandmother, Marion Allers DiCesare,  has been ruminating in my imagination for a long time.
Read more here: Picking Flowers off Wallpaper.

Yoshi and Kenji thank you!

Thank you to Deborah Bennison of Bennison Books for offering her editing expertise and refined literary eye and sensibilities towards the publication of Escaping Ziegfeld.

Illustration from Escaping Ziegfeld Copyright © 2018 by DM Denton

 

©Artwork and writing, unless otherwise indicated, are the property of Diane M Denton. Please request permission to reproduce or post elsewhere with a link back to bardessdmdenton. Thank you.